Some airlines say they’ve prepared for summer by planning to use bigger planes, hiring more staff and more closely watching for early signs of disruptions.
At the F.A.A.’s request, several major airlines have agreed to fly less, but with bigger planes, at some busy airports. United, for example, said it planned to have 30 fewer daily departures out of its Newark hub than in the summer of 2019. But because it’s using larger planes, the airline said it would offer 5 percent more seats in the New York area.
“We very, very, very much want to fly a larger schedule,” said Patrick Quayle, a senior vice president for global network planning and alliances at United. “But what we care about most is running a reliable operation.”
Other airlines are also planning to use larger planes on certain routes, a practice that has accelerated in recent years and is known as “upgauging.” Airlines have scheduled about 5 percent more flights within the United States this summer compared with last summer, and there will be about 10 percent more seats available, according to Cirium, an aviation data provider. Compared with the summer of 2019, airlines this summer will fly 10 percent fewer flights yet offer 3 percent more seats.